Sniper: Ghost Shooter
Explicit violence, language in gun-glorifying action flick.
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Sniper: Ghost Shooter
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sniper: Ghost Shooter is the sixth installment in the Sniper action film series, which started in the 1990s. As the title suggests, it's a military-focused story that's all about blowing away villains, and it has explicit violence, including a child preparing to behead a hostage, a close-up of a throat being slit, and a woman being shot through the head. You don't have to have seen the previous films to follow this one's "plot." Really, it's just a sequence of high-carnage battle scenes in which American armed forces shoot and kill Middle Eastern and Eastern European enemies in the bloodiest way possible, strung together by a suit-wearing officer who barks out assignments and orders. Masculinity is associated with gun power. And the disturbing "lesson" given to the sniper is to not hesitate or ask questions, just shoot -- including women and children who may or may not have ill intent. While there's racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the elite hero unit, two of the three women are portrayed in a sexual light (one makes a crude comment about herself), and almost everyone in the field who isn't White, male, and American gets shot, caught, or killed. Expect strong language, especially "s--t show" and "f--k," and drinking, plus smoking throughout.
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What's the Story?
In SNIPER: GHOST SHOOTER, an elite military unit is assigned to work with Georgian forces to protect an Eastern European pipeline from terrorists. When their top secret location is attacked by a ghost shooter time and time again, Sgt. "Gunny" Beckett (Chad Michael Collins) suspects a security breach and defies orders to learn who's behind it.
Is It Any Good?
The military is used as a moral shield to hide this action film's true motive: quenching bloodlust through big guns and bigger machismo. Sniper: Ghost Shooter feels very much like a video game, with long, gory battle sequences strung together through a simple storyline in which the young sergeant knows more than his commanding officers. It seems like a solid quarter of the film is seen through the sight lines of a rifle scope. And it's unabashedly derivative, from Sgt. Beckett's Top Gun-esque relationship with a civilian contractor/superior (Stephanie Vogt) to ripping off lines from better movies ("Yippee-ki-yay, motherf----r," "Say hello to my Russian friend!").
While the film's international locations are gorgeously shot, that beauty is marred by the blood spray and brain chunks that eventually cover the landscape. It's hard not to feel embarrassed for the talented actors who appear in it, including Dennis Haysbert and Billy Zane: This is, without a doubt, the kind of job actors take for the paycheck. And the takeaway is downright horrifying. The film's overall purpose seems to be to comfort soldiers by suggesting that, hey, sometimes we have to kill women and children. To project that message to wishful warriors who fantasize about racking up kills is revolting. But you know which element of the movie is most shocking? Despite the fact that it has nonstop action, a high body count, and intense blood splatter, the story is so rote and uninteresting that it may actually be sleep inducing.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's explicit violence within the context of military battles. What techniques do films use to depict violence as either something to avoid or, conversely, something that's exciting?
Why do you think Sniper: Ghost Shooter was made? Do you think the filmmaker had a great story to tell, or do you think the studio saw it as a money-making opportunity?
Did you notice positive and/or diverse representations in the movie? Why does representation matter in the media?
Discuss the potential consequences of promoting the message that a sniper can't hesitate. How would the message be different if it included moments where the sniper's suspicion about his targets were incorrect?
Many of the characters in the film smoke and drink. Is substance use glamorized here, or does it help viewers better understand the characters?
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2016
- Cast: Chad Michael Collins, Dennis Haysbert, Billy Zane
- Director: Don Michael Paul
- Studio: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and sequences of violence
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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